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Death Penalty

The Olympia FOR works hard to abolish the death penalty and has an active Committee for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.  People can contact our committee at deathpenalty@olympiafor.orgDeath Penalty News from Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation May 25, 2014The Death Penalty Is Also a Peace Issue [May 25, 2014]I

The Death Penalty Is a Peace Issue (Word) [May 25, 2014]

The Death Penal Fails to Deliver What it Promises. Instead, it Causes More Problems (Word) (pdf)

Old Death Penalty Events

Abolish the Death Penalty

“Progress and Strategies for Abolishing the Death Penalty” --- Millions of Americans who want to abolish the cruel, archaic death penalty feel frustrated that it persists. But abolitionists and the general public do not recognize how much progress has already been made, if we take the long historical view. Public support for the death penalty peaked years ago, along with the number of executions and the number of new death sentences imposed. All of those have been sliding for nearly 20 years. In the past six years, six U.S. states have abolished the death penalty. We can learn from our history – especially our recent history – in order to keep doing the things that have worked, and also to devise smarter strategies for the abolition movement. Glen Anderson devised an interactive workshop titled “Progress and Strategies for Abolishing the Death Penalty” on this kind of history and strategy. When he presented it in Tacoma and in Olympia, those audience found it very interesting and encouraging. He is eager to present it to more audiences. Contact him at (360) 491-9093 glen@olywa.net. See much information on the Olympia FOR website’s death penalty section, www.olympiafor.org/death_penalty.htm

Every summer the Olympia FOR’s death penalty committee reaches out to the public with information booths at summertime events:
Look for us on Saturday afternoon June 22 at the Capital City Pride Festival in Olympia’s Sylvester Park, and Saturday and Sunday July 27-28 at Ethnic Fest in Tacoma’s Wright Park (north of downtown). Every year we feature a game that will attract people to our booth and engage them in fresh thinking about the death penalty. Our 2013 game focuses on the huge cost of the death penalty and invites people to think about how to better spend the tax dollars we waste on it, so we could reduce crime in more effective ways. We’ll offer six jars with labels for “death penalty,” “mental health treatment,” “drug and alcohol treatment,” “help for victims’ families,” and other alternatives. We’ll hand each person a stack of 10 pennies that represents the amount we spend currently on the death penalty, and invite the person to allocate those pennies into the six jars according to how they would like to see our tax dollars spent. We expect people to spend less on the death penalty than at present, and to allocate them to more effective purposes. For more information about our 2013 game – and to invite us to set it up at other locations – contact Glen Anderson at (360) 491-9093 glen@olywa.net. Contact the Olympia FOR’s Committee for Alternatives to the Death Penalty through its chairperson, Emily Hammargren, at (360) 352-0695 deathpenalty@olympiafor.org

How much does Washington State’s death penalty cost? It costs taxpayers a heck of a lot, according to a 2006 report to the Washington State Bar Association. Many people think that appeals are the most expensive part of the death penalty, but actually the original trial costs a lot more. A death penalty case requires two trials – one to determine guilt or innocence, and a second one to decide whether to impose the death penalty or life without parole. Each trial is extremely complex and runs enormous (potentially deadly) risks that any part of it can go wrong, so each trial becomes extremely detailed and expensive. The 2006 report estimated that at the trial level, death penalty cases were estimated to generate roughly $470,000 in additional costs to the prosecution and defense over the cost of trying the same case as an aggravated murder without the death penalty and costs of $47,000 to $70,000 for court personnel. On direct appeal, the cost of appellate defense averaged $100,000 more in death penalty cases, than in non-death penalty murder cases. Personal restraint petitions filed in death penalty cases on average cost an additional $137,000 in public defense costs. This information came from the December 2006 “Final Report of the Death Penalty Subcommittee on the Committee on Public Defense, Washington State Bar Association.” Costs nowadays are likely much higher. Some people say we could reduce costs by limiting appeals. Already, more than 140 wrongfully convicted persons have been released from death row – some after many years of struggling to establish their innocence – and several innocent persons have been executed in recent years. Limiting appeals would certainly cause more innocent persons to be executed.

Films about the death penalty stimulate thought and discussion:
Over the years the Olympia FOR’s Committee for Alternatives to the Death Penalty has shown many films at Olympia Film Society and in our members’ homes. These have informed people and stimulated fresh thinking and interesting discussions. Our most recent examples were three films about the West Memphis Three, three innocent teenagers who were wrongly convicted of murder in 1994 in West Memphis, Arkansas. They were victims of people’s prejudices, sloppy police work, over-eager prosecutors, and other problems common in death penalty cases. We helped publicize the showings of “West of Memphis” at the Olympia Film Society at the Capitol Theater from April 27 through May 2. We also provided printed materials in the lobby. One evening we introduced our group’s existence and hosted a discussion following the film. Contact the chairperson of the Olympia FOR’s Committee for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, Emily Hammargren, at (360) 352-0695 deathpenalty@olympiafor.org


Only 30 minutes before executing Warren Hill, the State of Georgia finally obeyed a US Supreme Court decision and stayed his execution:
Despite the 2002 US Supreme Court decision prohibiting executions of “mentally retarded” persons (because of the constitutional safeguard against cruel and unusual punishment), the State of Georgia was planning to execute Warren Hill, 53, with an IQ of 70, until the US federal appeals court for the 11th circuit stayed his execution with only 30 minutes to spare. Georgia is the only state in the US that insists prisoners must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that their mental limitations are serious enough to qualify for the legal exemption. Experts say this standard is almost impossible to achieve. Hill had come within just 90 minutes of execution seven months before. Hill's attorney, Brian Kammer, issued a statement after the stay: “All the doctors who have examined Mr. Hill are unanimous in their diagnosis of mental retardation, so there is no question that his execution would have been in violation of the US Supreme Court's 2002 ruling in Atkins v Virginia.” The injustice of Hill’s case attracted some international attention but much less than the case of Troy Davis, whom Georgia executed in September 2011, despite strong evidence of his innocence.

Death Penalty News

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens explains changing to oppose the death penalty:  Adam Liptak reported in the November 27, 2010, New York Times the story of how one US Supreme Court Justice came to oppose the death penalty.  Shortly after joining the Court in 1976, Justice Stevens voted to bring the death penalty back after its arbitrariness had been ruled unconstitutional in 1972.  He wrote that clear procedures could make it possible to ensure “evenhanded, rational and consistent imposition of death sentences under law.”  But in 2008, two years before announcing his retirement, Justice Stevens wrote in a Court decision that he now believed the death penalty was unconstitutional.  In November 2010 he explained his reasoning.  He lamented that newer justices and “regrettable judicial activism” had resulted in a death penalty system full of racism, biased against defendants, and infected with politics and hysteria.  See www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/us/28memo.html

International support grows for a United Nations moratorium on the death penalty:  On November 11 the US joined China, India, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in voting against a resolution in the United Nations seeking a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty.  The motion passed with 107 countries supporting, 38 opposing, and 36 abstaining.  The vote occurred in the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee, a body composed of all 192 UN member states that addresses human rights and humanitarian issues.  The General Assembly adopted a similar resolution in 2007, but the 2010 vote won by a larger margin.

Three major newspapers in Texas call for ending the death penalty:  Texas's largest newspaper, the Houston Chronicle, recently joined the Dallas Morning News and the Austin American Statesman in calling for abolishing the death penalty.  Massively embarrassing scandals about innocent people on death row (and some executed), racial bias, and other problems have led the three newspapers to conclude that the death penalty is unworkable, and that Texas should stop it altogether.  See the Houston Chronicle at www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/7362050.html

Learn about and discuss the Death Penalty:  Olympia FOR can present a 6-session study group in your faith community or other organization:  Are you troubled by the death penalty?  You can learn a lot about it and discuss various aspects in the Olympia FOR’s six-session study group, which addresses many aspects of the death penalty, including innocence, racial and economic class bias, cost, victims, legal history, and other factors.  It can include a variety of faith perspectives if you want them.  Participants read and discuss various printed materials, watch three compelling short videos, and share their own insights.  The Olympia FOR’s Committee for Alternatives to the Death Penalty offers this study group series for faith communities and other settings.  If you would like to host this Death Penalty Study Group from Faith Perspectives, (or the study group without the faith-based content), please contact (360) 491-9093 glen@olympiafor.org

ACLU report on faulty decisions in Washington state’s DP cases (Word and .pdf)

ALI article by Adam Liptak – Jan 4, 20120 (Word and .pdf)

Arbitrariness in the Courts 2007 from DPIC (Word)

Article about the Illinois Moratorium on the Death Penalty (Word)   pdf 

Catholic Workshop (.pdf only)

Christian Reasons to Oppose the Death Penalty ( .pdf.)

Christian Reasons to Oppose the Death Penalty  (Word)

Colorado Law Review – 116-page report on the DP moratorium movement (.pdf only)

The Death Penalty Is Expensive!

Cruel and Unusual Punishment – one page of information and insights (Word and .pdf)

Cycle of Violence - McVeigh, War, the Death Penalty   pdf

Death Penalty Information Resources (Word)    pdf

Death Penalty Fact Sheet (Word)   pdf

Death Penalty News from Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation May 25, 2014

Death Penalty Quotations

Death Penalty Study Group from Faith Perspectives – one-page overview (.pdf only)

Death Penalty Timeline - Based on DPIC Info (Word)

Eye Witness Errors (pdf)  (Word)

Fact Sheet - Cost (Word)   pdf

Fact Sheet - Deterrence   pdf

Fact Sheet - Innocence   pdf

Fact Sheet - Racial Bias   pdf

Gandhi and the Death Penalty (pdf)

History of the Death Penalty based on DPIC information (pdf)

How Mistaken and Perjured Eyewitness Mistaken and Perjured Witnesses Put 48 Innocents on Death Row (Word)

If Not the Death Penalty, What

Illinois Moratorium Commission's Complete Report (pdf)

 Jewish Statements on the Death Penalty  pdf document 

Lethal Injection Fact Sheet

"Life Without Parole" pdf document by Glen Anderson

"Murders in the Bible" pdf document

MYTHS about the death penalty are DEBUNKED here (.pdf only)

Public Wants to Cut Death Penalty and Spend for Better Purposes (pdf)

Replace Death Penalty With Life Incarceration - Death penalty background by ACLU (pdf)

Smart on Crime-Reconsidering the Death Penalty in a Time of Economic Crisis (.pdf)

The Next Strategic Step toward Abolishing the Death Penalty: Exempting Mentally Ill Persons

The Worst of the Worst (.pdf)

"That's the Man" - Eye Witness Errors   pdf

The Death Penalty Is a Peace Issue (Word) [May 25, 2014]

Writing Letters to Editors about the Death Penalty

 

 

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